If you've been paying attention to trends at all this year, you should be aware of the powerful shift in marketing that has consumers demanding much more than a one-sided conversation filled with chest thumping, brag and boast messaging. Consumers are more informed, more savvy about when they are "being sold to," and reactively tuning out traditional sales messaging. They're looking for a more sincere, responsive and relevant exchange with the companies with which they do business. The emerging and evolving world of content development offers a different relationship model. One that begins with a much better understanding of the consumer's preferences and turns those insights into a program of content that gives the target exactly what they crave at the ideal time and invites them to share it with others--kind of like snack time in kindergarten. Making the transition from a traditional in-house agency to a content organization should always begin with a clear vision and mission. Once you have created your call to arms for this new approach, you can begin to think about staffing the team that will be responsible for creating the workflow plan and the programming schedule that will provide your audience with all the content they can't wait to read, watch and share.
As you consider this new reality you will inevitably begin looking for personnel gaps that might exist in your in-house agency to provide this upgraded capability. That's right, I said gaps because your in-house agency should already have many of the critical roles needed to make the move. After all, your writers, designers, and production personnel already know how to produce material. Your account teams know how to manage jobs, your traffic managers keep everything moving smoothly. What's missing? As I stated in the previous post, a content-driven organization's mission should be to know your business objectives and organize an army around content that achieves those goals.
So for this reason, the most significant role to make the transition work must inevitably be the Chief Content Officer. Now, that role could be filled by the Chief Marketing Officer or by someone who reports directly to the CMO, but the critical factor here is that the shift in strategy must come from upper management. The CCO has to state the mission and keep the army focused on the goal. They have to be the keepers of the brand voice and protect it vigorously. They must be the advocate for the customer and promote a beneficial customer relationship throughout the organization. And they must be able to organize and lead the teams to work toward the stated objectives.
Almost as significant as the CCO role will be the individual or team that creates the program schedule that serves as the logistical scope of work. These individuals are the field generals. In some organizations they're called Managing Editors or Content Directors. This is a new role for almost any in-house agency because it serves as the primary source of all assignments. In other words, this role ideally replaces the role of your internal customer. They will actualize the CCO's vision and mission by executing the communication product to achieve the business goals. If your agency was a broadcast or cable network, this role would be the Director of Programming. They would have a thorough understanding of how to schedule program content to effectively reach the right audience at the right time and frequency. Most in-house agencies will probably have to look outside their ranks to fill this role, because it is the one that has no traditional counterpart.
However, once the Managing Editor/Content Director develops this content plan, your organization will most likely want to tweak how some of your existing staff conducts their workflow. Your in-house agency might already have someone looking at your social media and responding to that audience. You might have a separate digital team and print team that work independently in their respective media. You might have a separate video production team. I could go on, but you get the point. I'm suggesting that you might want to get them all together in a room and introduce them to each other. The goal here is to work as one well-tuned content organization that understands their brands' attributes and delivers perfectly branded content to a hungry audience that knows when and where to expect it.
There are other important roles that will be helpful if your in-house agency has the need. Your research team could volunteer someone to be the Consumer Persona specialist, who monitors and tweaks changes in you audience make-up. If you have someone in the role of media buyer, they can shift to become a Paid Content or Sponsored Content specialist. If you still have a Press Relations team, they will have to shift to becoming an Influencers Relations specialist because, well...because the press barely exists. In almost every case, each role within your in-house group will be altered because the shift is fundamental. We are in an era of systemic disruption and innovation, and nothing can prevent the irresistible force of change.
This is the fourth in of a series of posts on Content we are featuring in 2015. Next up is B2B Content--A brief view into building exceptional, credible business content that creates value and how to measure that.
If this is a topic you and your team is struggling with, Cella is available to provide on-site training for you and your team.